The injury occurred in the 12th minute against the Melbourne Storm on Friday night during the Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith Testimonial match. Coote soon left the field to avoid further damage.
Lachlan Coote struggled with many niggling injuries last season. He had on-going problems with his achilles tendon, as well as a lingering hamstring injury. Obviously having Coote sit out games wasn’t doing the Cowboys any favours, however, they had young gun Kalyn Ponga filling his shoes and even improving their attack at times.
With Ponga since moving on to the Newcastle Knights to earn upwards of one million dollars per season, the Cowboys don’t have the luxury of filling an injured Coote’s role with an up and coming superstar. They do have the option of putting another budding star at the back, though.
So, if Coote is to miss matches due to injury, who should replace him?
In 2014, then Cowboys new recruit Lachlan Coote tore his ACL at the first ever NRL Nines competition. The Cowboys elected to give Michael Morgan the chance to play at the back. He excelled, scoring a career-high ten tries as well as being named cowboys most improved and player of the year. He also made a name for himself amongst the Maroons camp, being named the nineteenth man for Game 3 of the State of Origin series.
Following the 2017 season, it would be hard to take ‘Morgo’ out of the halves, given the vast improvement he showed in the absence of Johnathan Thurston. He’s always had a great running game, then he showed us his ability to kick and pass with the best of them. Without Michael Morgan, the North Queensland Cowboys don’t even come close to making the grand final. But, Michael Morgan wasn’t the only one who stepped up in the absence of JT.
Te Maire Martin
Te Maire Martin showed endless amounts of potential and improvement following his switch from Penrith to Townsville. His form at the back end of the season, especially during the finals would make it hard for any coach to leave him out of the weekly 17. Unfortunately for Martin, he’s stuck behind perhaps the best half to ever play the game, as well as a current Queensland and Australian star.
If Lachlan Coote continues to have injury troubles, which being realistic, is very possible, I think it’s tough to look past Michael Morgan slotting in at the back. This way, the Cowboys will still have the great ball playing and kicking from the number one position, as well as the dangerous footwork and speed of Martin in the halves.
Other options include giving young winger/fullback Carlin Anderson his first shot at first grade since joining the Townsville Blackhawks from the Brisbane Broncos this past season. Anderson scored 20 tries in 23 appearances last season and has scored 59 tries in 81 appearances for his young career. Impressive numbers, but it remains to be seen if that can translate to success in top grade.
Ben Hampton is also a viable option, having covered the fullback position at times last season with in-game injuries to both Ponga and Coote. However, having Hampton start would leave a hole on the bench, where Hampton’s versatility, especially in today’s game, is critical.
Following Johnathan Thurston’s retirement at seasons end, Te Maire Martin will most likely be the man to take over for the historic number 7. Giving Martin more exposure to first-grade footy will only benefit the Cowboys in the long run. Not to mention, Martin might be able to learn a thing or two from the future immortal, perhaps making him the best option.